Cincinnati has an amazing arts community. For a city of our size, we can experience the opera, symphony, ballet, theater, museums, choral music, modern dance and a variety of other art forms. We are also very fortunate that African American artists routinely display their talents right here in the Queen City.
Cincy Arts Guide provides detailed listings on performances, exhibitions, classes, fundraisers and other arts events from arts organizations across the region.
Here is a list of upcoming events that local African Americans will not want to miss. Be sure to ask about any special deals, discount options, community performances or same-day options!
The Duncanson Murals
Taft Art Museum
The first African American artist to achieve an international reputation, Robert Duncanson moved to Cincinnati after 1840 to embark on an artistic career. Nicholas Longworth (1782–1863), who owned Belmont, now the Taft Museum of Art, from 1829 to 1863, commissioned a suite of eight large landscape paintings from Duncanson to decorate to foyer of his home. The paintings are surrounded by trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) frames and accompanied by overdoor decorations of floral bouquets. Painted in the Hudson River School style characterized by Romantic views of virgin landscape, the imagined landscapes in the murals evoke the Ohio River Valley.
Mandela: The Journey
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
March 24 – August 20
This exhibits commemorates the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela through photographs by Matthew Willman as he revisited many of the locations that had played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom. RSVP for the free preview on March 23 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. by emailing Will Jones at wjones@NURFC.org. Must RSVP by March 22. If you do not RSVP, tickets for the preview are $25 and can be purchased online.
Njideka Akunyili Art Exhibit
Contemporary Arts Center
July 15 – October 1
Her first paintings navigated the domestic landscape of life with her new American husband and intimate scenes of their wedding and home. The Predecessors mines deeper into Akunyili Crosby’s past, collecting portraits of her Nigerian family in a range of domestic settings. This exhibition will unite this seminal series for the first time, bringing together individual pieces from London, Johannesburg, New York and Los Angeles to celebrate a formative body in an artist’s rapidly emerging voice. Admission to the gallery is free.
The Midwest Regional Black Family Reunion Celebration
Sawyer Point Park
August 18 – 20
This celebration will feature a weekend full of events, job fairs, worship, and Black-owned food vendors, retailers, organizations and R&B performances. Admission to this family-friendly event is free and open to the public. Festival hours are Saturday, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Plan your weekend right with the complete event schedule.
Nephews 2nd Annual All White Boat Ride
Get ready for Nephew’s Second All White Boat Ride with Case Cincinnati performance! Yes Case will be performing live on the boat. So keep the champagne pouring, plates full and feet moving. There will be a DJ on each floor. Tickets are $45. To purchase tickets, call 513-761-1806. Tickets include live performance, free champagne, and food buffet. Boarding starts at 8 p.m. The boat will leave at 9 p.m. and return at Midnight.
The Last Poet Standing IV Competition
The Aronoff Center
Last Poet Standing Cincinnati Competition is a head-to-head spoken word competition where competitors will perform original work. General admission tickets are $26.00 and can be purchased online, by calling 513-621-2787, or at the Aronoff Center Ticket Office. Student discount tickets are $16 and are available only at the Aronoff Center Ticket Office with student ID. The Signature Lounge opens in the lobby at 7:30 PM, featuring live music and a full bar. The show starts at 8 p.m.
Cincinnati Black Theatre Company Auditions
Carl H. Lindner YMCA
The Cincinnati Black Theatre Company 2017 Auditions for live stage performances takes place August 12 and August 26. They are looking for dancers, singers and actors. This audition is open to all children, teens and adults. Auditions will be held on August 12 & 26 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Please arrive early for registration. All children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. View this list of what you need to bring and what you need to prepare.
Stay Woke Poetry Slam
Bi-Okoto Cultural Center
Blvck Seeds Tribe is hosting their first Stay Woke Cincinnati Poetry Slam. This event showcases some of Cincinnati’s most talented artists and entrepreneurs, featuring live music, painting, poetry, as well as food and vending by local black-owned businesses. Admission is $10 at the door. This event will also continue for every final Thursday of the future months.
All White Spoken Word Boat Ride
Come aboard the first official All White Spoken Word Riverboat Ride of the summer. There will be 2 floors, 2 DJs, food, and 6 of the city’s hottest spoken word artists! Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online. Early bird tickets are only $20 through August 10. After that the prices go up so take advantage of the early bird tickets. Once you purchase your tickets, you will only need to present your ID at the time of arrive. The boarding time is 10 p.m. The boat will arrive back to the dock at 2:00 a.m.
Aries Spears Comedy Show
Funny Bone Liberty Township
Ever since Aries Spears was 14 years old, he has been a force to be reckoned with in the comedy scene throughout America. His quick wit, charisma and ferociously aggressive style of comedy have earned him critical acclaim, high accolades, and above all, a busy schedule. From being a regular on Fox’s Mad TV, starring in feature films, appearing on a number of national talk shows, and continually touring the country with his stand-up, Aries’s talents are becoming recognized and appreciated throughout the entertainment industry. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 513-779-5233 or at the ticket booth.
2017 UBAHN Fest
Riverfront Transit Center
September 8 – 9
UBAHN is a two-day hip-hop, rock, and electronic music festival that will feature an eclectic line-up of live performances across two stages, in a scenic and underutilized Metro Transit Center under downtown Cincinnati’s Second Street. This years line-up consists of Big Sean, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Big Boi, Lecrae and Niykee Heaton. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online. Two-day passes are $99 while VIP passes are $250.
Cincinnati Jazz and BBQ Festival
This is the annual celebration of great music, great food and great craft beer. This family friend event is free and open to everyone. There will be an Art Mart, activities for the kids and non-meat alternatives. So come out to 5800 Madison Road, 45227. Festival hours are from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Cincinnati March for Racial Justice
Owl’s Nest Park
Join the Black Agenda Cincinnati for its Cincinnati March for Racial Justice. This is an all-day gathering reaffirming our commitment to eliminate racism from our society. There will be national, state, and local speakers, entertainment, music, spoken word, and activities. The Keynote speaker will be Dr. Cornel West. This event is free and open to the public.
Playhouse in the Park presents Mr. Joy
September 23-October 22
What happened to Mr. Joy? A Harlem community is shaken when Mr. Joy, a Chinese immigrant whose shoe repair shop has been a neighborhood pillar for decades, is the victim of a sudden and violent attack. Through the lens of nine of Mr. Joy’s customers – all brought to life by one actress – we learn the subtly profound and unassuming impact the shop owner has had on each of their lives. Poignant, thoughtful and stirring, Mr. Joy invites you to celebrate the power of the invisible ties that bind us all. Written by Playhouse favorite and Dayton native Daniel Beaty!
This Tank Cincinnati concert is one you don’t want to miss! Hear Tank’s smooth voice as he sings to you about sex, love and pain. The ladies will be in the building so gentlemen grab your girls, or go to the concert to find one. Ticket prices range from $35 to $101 and can be purchased on Groupon or Live Nation.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra is composed of 15 of jazz music’s leading soloists under the leadership of musical director Wynton Marsalis. Tickets range from $37.50 – $62.50 and can be purchased online at Taft Theatre, Ticketmaster or the Taft Theatre Box Office beginning Friday, June 2 at 11:00 a.m. One can also purchase by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Black Violin is composed of classically trained violist and violinist Wil B. and Kev Marcus, who blend classical, hip-hop, rock, R&B, and bluegrass music to create a unique and high energy style they call “Classical Boom.” Accompanied by drummer Nat Stokes and DJ SPS, Black Violin has spent the last several years performing for sold-out crowds across the country. Tickets prices range from $25 – $45 and can be purchased online. Student tickets are available for $15 with valid student ID. Goldstar now has tickets for $25. Get them while they last.
Cincinnati Writer’s Workshop: Finding Your F.L.O.W.
HEIRS Covenant Church
This workshop is not only purposed to help you find your FLOW, but to give you valuable information you need to self-publish in excellence. Tickets are $59 and can be purchased online. Each ticket include lunch, a workbook, and giveaways. If purchase 2 tickets or more tickets together, your names will be entered into a special drawing.
Marissa Staples, Writer
The Voice of Black Cincinnati